Who doesn’t love bacon? Actually me. Not that I don’t like bacon, I just wasn’t nuts about it like people who run around in stuff like this, or this, and this. And then order bacon-themed paraphernalia like this, shake this all over everything they eat, and brush their teeth with this.
Or at least I wasn’t a bacon zealot until this past Saturday. When I followed that wise, wise man, Michael Ruhlman’s, porcine prophecy and completely changed the way I cooked it.
I’ve tried sautéing it in a skillet, with a cast iron grill press on top. I baked it on a rack/baking sheet combo in the oven. I tried a non-stick skillet. A cast-iron frying pan. A stainless steel saute pan. They all yielded mediocre results. Somehow I never got that chewy, crispy, perfectly cooked and not too brown consistency. It was either too crispy, or too fatty, or both. Sure, a strip or two was a nice compliment to my fried eggs and potato latkes, or my favorite blueberry cornmeal pancakes. But admittedly, I was just faking my way through the bacon lovers’ club meetings.
And then I saw the light. I was skimming through one of my favorite cooking primers – Rhulman’s Twenty – and noticed a sidebar about how to cook bacon for realz. He recommends first braising it to get the meat chewy, then sautéing it to crisp it up. ZOMG. This is the real deal.
It doesn’t take any longer, or require additional dishes to dirty, so there’s no reason to NOT cook your bacon this way. Unless of course you don’t want to eat the most delicious bacon ever and become one of those bacon weirdos who play strange bacon games like this one. I can’t guarantee that this won’t be you.
All you need to do is place your bacon snugly in a pan on the stove, over medium heat. Add some water to the pan, just so the bacon is covered. (I cut these strips in half so they would fit in the pan better.)
Then leave it alone. Forget about it while it simmers along, infusing juiciness into the meat.
Soon you will start to smell a little bacon goodness, and you’ll start to hear it crackling in the pan as the water evaporates off. You’re well on your way. Resist the urge to work hard here and touch it. Just leave it alone.
After a few more minutes, it will start to crisp up. Go ahead and flip the pieces to brown them evenly. Move them around to make sure they cook evenly if your pan has hot spots. But flip once and leave them alone. In the same amount of time it takes to cook mediocre bacon (about 20 minutes) you will be rewarded with the most delicious chewy, crispy, tender bacon ever.
Just place the finished bacon on a paper towel lined plate to drain for a minute and cool before diving in. And be sure to save that rendered bacon fat – keep it in a glass container in your fridge for the next time you want to use bacon-flavored fat to cook in (pretty much anytime). You’ll never use olive oil again.
And if you still can’t get over your bacon cravings after making a batch this way, you can always slather your food in this. Enjoy!